STRATEGY

SNG Rules to Success – Winning at Sit and Go’s

One popular format of poker online, is the sit and go, commonly referred to as the SNG. In this guide, I will tell you my top tips for SNG success.

In an SNG all players start with an even amount of chips. There is always the same number of players in each given SNG. Usually between 2 and 360 players enter into each SNG depending on the type.

The most common SNG sizes are: Heads-up’s (2 players), six max and nine max. The SNG’s can vary in speed from slow (blinds go up the most slowly), normal, turbo and hyper-turbo (the stack size is the smallest, and the blind levels go up the quickest). SNGs come in the following formats:

  • Knock-out
  • Double or Nothing’s
  • Bounty
  • Jackpot Sit and Go’s.

Additionally, SNG’s do not have late registration. Nor do they have a scheduled start time (this is what separates even the bigger field SNG’s from MTT’s). Once the required number of players have entered, the SNG starts.

There is a vast array of possible choices before you even sit down in a game. Therefore pick whichever game you have enough time to play through till in the money (ITM) and the finish of the game. Most SNG lobbies will state the expected total time till the finish of the SNG. Therefore, you shouldn’t start a game you will not be able to finish. Unfortunately, SNG’s all have a fixed prize pool structure. Except for Jackpot SNG’s you can’t discuss deals, or get paid for finishing outside the money.

SNG Success

SNG Rules for Success

My first rule of poker success for SNG’s: once you have enough experience to work out which format you do well in or enjoy, stick with this format and gain experience in it. Mastering your chosen format is going to make more money than a jack of all trades.

My second rule for SNG’s is ‘Aim for first place’. Because payouts in poker are so top heavy, getting 1st place some of the time is worthwhile busting the rest of the time. Catering your poker to win more often instead of being scared to not cash will mean that your return on investment (ROI) will increase. Making you more money.

Play your stack effectively

Learning to play your stack size effectively is my third rule. If you are sat with a large advantage early on, you ought to play tightly until it reaches the money bubble. There you can put pressure on the stacks at risk of busting. Knowing how each stack size should play, in terms of aggression or hands to open is key to winning long term at SNG’s.

Hand ranges according to the handedness of the table makes my fourth rule. You can find suggested hand opening ranges online (which hand you should open on each of the spots from UTG to the SB). When using hand opening ranges, remember to account for missing players or players sat out. Move yourself to the correct position the range suggests. This difference in the hands you will open correctly will increase your edge against your opposition.

Memorising charts for profitable open jams when your stack size is a certain level of big blinds remaining is also crucial to success at SNG’s. As such learning open-jam charts is my fifth rule my fifth rule.

Independent Chip Modelling

ICM is my sixth rule. As you become more experienced at poker, and no longer need to be looking at a hand opening guide for each and every hand and, have a vague idea of which hands can be jammed from which positions at which stack sizes. Now it is time to add another factor into your game! The factor is called Independent Chip Modelling (ICM). ICM is a way to work out how much each players stack is worth in terms of real value money at this stage of the tournament, or their equity in $ev. The model uses stack sizes to determine the likelihood of each player finishing in each possible finishing position.

By using this ICM model you can see that certain spots that may of net a positive expectation in terms of chips, doesn’t equate to a positive expectation in terms of money. This is due to the difference in pay outs for each position. ICM allows you to work out which hands can profitably call or jam vs an opponent’s range. Weaker players are unlikely to be familiar with ICM concepts, and will call off in spots that are incorrect. As such it is up to you to realise this, and act accordingly. Furthermore ICM does not account for skill edge. Therefore, it may be better to pass up small +$ev spots in order to better realise your edge later on.

Bankroll Management

My final and most important rule is to use the correct bankroll management. Depending on factors such as your skill edge, the format chosen and the speed of the game you will need a certain size of bankroll.

If you are trying to take poker seriously, I seriously advise looking up what the correct bankroll is for your particular circumstances. Stick to it, to ensure that you do not bust (run out of money).

As the buy-in increases, generally the level of competition increases. As the opponents get better your edge will get smaller, meaning you require a larger bankroll. If the opponents are too tough you will experience high variance or loss. Therefore, you should pick a buy-in level appropriate to your level of skill.

If you follow all these rules for SNG success, you will find yourself profiting at the games you pick.

As this continues, you can increase your average buy-in, in line with your total bankroll. Whatever you want to get out of poker, whether that’s a little extra cash or relaxing and having fun, remember that following some basic guides or rules. This will enable you to win that little bit extra!


Greg has been playing poker for the last 7 years, you can currently find him on Cash Game tables from £20nl-£100nl under the username BarrattG1. He currently writes poker articles and does coaching of micro stakes Mtt and Cash players. He uses a generally sound mathematical approach to odds and poker and uses this in conjunction with meta-game to create spots to profit from.


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